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Capitol Perspectives: An unusual primary, if you follow the money

by Phill Brooks

This year’s Missouri primary was one of the most unusual I’ve seen. It involved more negative attacks funded by more big-buck donors with more inexperienced winners than I can remember.
I had thought it would be a pretty clean primary as a result of the suicide of one of the Republican candidates for governor, State Auditor Tom Schweich. His suicide coming shortly after a broadcast advertisement making

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From the Bench

By Circuit Judge R. Brent Elliott

The last article highlighted legislative changes to felony classifications and prison terms that will take effect January 1, 2017. This month I will focus on changes to fine provisions for felonies. Currently, criminal fines are set forth in Chapter 560 of the Revised Statutes of the State of Missouri (RSMo.)  Next year criminal fines will be set forth in Chapter 558 RSMo.

Section 560.011

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Capitol Perspectives: Initiative and Referenda: Does Missouri’s system still empower voters?

by Mark D. Hughes

Missouri is one of 24 states that permits initiative petition — placing statutory or constitutional changes directly before voters for their approval. This concept was born of the progressive movement that swept America at the turn of the 20th century.

In 1904, the Missouri Direct Legislation League, led by St. Louis attorney Silas L. Moser, lobbied the Legislature to place an initiative petition and referendum amendment

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Missouri Ballot Initiatives: A Tale of Two Tobacco Taxes 

by Mark Hughes 

Missouri’s cigarette tax, at 17 cents-per-pack, is the nation’s lowest. This makes the tax an irresistible target for advocates who want to raise money for public uses.

This year two initiative petitions to raise the cigarette tax have been approved by the secretary of state, circulated by supporters and turned in to have signatures verified by local election authorities.

Missourians approved the initiative process in 1908 to

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Challenges in funding Missouri’s highway system

by State Sen. Dan Hegeman

Maintaining and building infrastructure is one of the few fundamental responsibilities of government. That is why the Missouri State Senate once again spent a significant amount of time this session debating various proposals for how best to address the funding challenges facing Missouri’s highway system.

This debate is critical. The Show-Me State is home to the seventh largest highway system in the country, with over

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Capitol Perspectives: Social Unrest Spans Nearly a Century: Missouri Mining Riots of 1917

by Mark Hughes

This summer’s social unrest, which began last year with the outbreak of violence in Ferguson, comes nearly a century after another dark chapter of Missouri social strife: the Lead Belt mining riots of 1917.

Those riots began 99 years ago on Friday, July 13, 1917. Missouri’s Lead Belt at that time consisted largely of shafts, mills, chat dumps and company houses built near mines sank into the

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Seasons of Lawmaking

by State Rep. J. Eggleston

Just as nature has its four seasons, so does Missouri politics.

Throughout the interim (the time when the legislature is not in session) up through December, legislators prepare ideas for bills they may file for the upcoming session.  Sometimes bills are the same ones that were filed in the previous session that did not pass.  It is not unusual for a bill to take several

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From the Bench

Circuit Judge R. Brent Elliott’s “From the Bench” is a series of articles designed to provide the public with a better understanding of the judicial system and changes in the law.  No explanation or example utilized herein should in any way be interpreted as reflecting an opinion, approval, or disapproval of any law.  A circuit judge’s job is to fairly and impartially apply the law, not change it.

Last month

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Amendment addresses large scale water resource challenges

by State Sen. Dan Hegeman

All of us depend on safe and reliable water resources and infrastructure every single day.  Unfortunately, existing water resources and infrastructure in many parts of the state are struggling to meet current demands and are soon projected to be unable to meet future demands.

While some regions are facing increased demands on resources as a result of rapid population growth, others are seeing existing resources

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